Sitting atop the pinnacle of college football is Nick Saban and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. When Mississippi State University travels to Tuscaloosa for this Saturday's game, it will be the biggest test of the year for MSU, and head coach Joe Moorhead recognizes the challenge the team is facing.
"We have to have a heightened awareness heading into the game that the margin of error is almost negligible," Moorhead said. "We are going to need great energy, great urgency and great precision. We will need to have a great week of practice in order to take the field with confidence and play 60 minutes of football with phenomenal effort and tremendous execution."
Moorhead said each week the team has to play to a standard and not to their opponents' level, but this week it will be pretty close as the team’s standard is a championship standard, and Alabama is setting that standard each year.
"Alabama is the gold standard in this league," Moorhead said. "I told the team last night, 'No one falls to the top of the mountain.' These guys have worked their tails off and earned the right to be there. It is our job to go out there and try to knock them off."
MSU came close to knocking off No. 1 Alabama at home last year as they lost in a heartbreaker, giving up a touchdown less than two minutes to go in the game, however MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald explained the game of football is always different. When the game is over and the Saturday afternoon stadium lights are turned off, a loss is still a loss. That loss is what is motivating them going into the game.
"In football, it doesn’t matter if you win by a point or six touchdowns, you still lost," Fitzgerald said. "Just take that as motivation and a little bit of extra confidence going into how well we played last year, knowing that we can do that again."
MSU knows the SEC giant they are about to face, and have been preparing for the chance to beat a team they have lost to for 11 consecutive years. Offensive coordinator and coach Luke Getsy made it clear how the MSU football team is going to have to work as hard as they can to get the win.
"We have to make sure that our execution is at a high rate this week, that margin for error is small," Getsy said. "Those guys played fast, those guys played hard. It’s obvious that they’re well coached, so we need to make sure that we have a great week of preparation."
That task at hand is a massive one, as MSU goes into the game with the projected margin of victory for Alabama is 25.5 points. Moorhead said the margin for error is little to none.
"You don't have to play a perfect game, but got to be darn near close," Moorhead said. "You got to be in that range, because there not going to beat themselves and they're very well coached. They have a ton of talent, and you have to find ways to make plays."
Despite the threat Alabama brings to the MSU team this Saturday, MSU continues to keep the consistency they have pushed all season. Getsy sticks to the importance of MSU maintaining who they are and being true to what they have worked on all season long.
"I think for us, we’ve got to stay true to who we are and what we do. We do what we do really well and we need to make sure that we stay true to that," Getsy said. "The opponent is going to present challenges to for us, and we need to make sure we create opportunities for ourselves both in run and pass."
MSU plays No. 1 Alabama at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tuscaloosa. CBS will broadcast the game.